With a strong foundation in the basic and visual sciences, the Chicago College of Optometry offers students the skills needed for success. A low student-to-faculty ratio helps ensure that you will receive individualized attention and mentorship from faculty who are experts in their field. Throughout the program, our caring faculty will guide you through the application of scientific principles to diagnose and manage eye disorders. You will also benefit from extensive patient care experiences under the supervision of skilled clinical optometry faculty.

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Fast Facts



Doctor of Optometry (O.D.)

General Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • Completion of course prerequisites with a grade of C or higher
  • Minimum overall cumulative GPA and science GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale
  • OAT scores must be submitted by June 1st.
    • OAT scores older than five years are not acceptable
    • Additional information on the OAT may be found online at www.opted.org
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • One letter must be from a practicing optometrist

Length of Program

4 years, full-time

Class Size

66 (Fall 2017)

Class of 2021 Profiles

  • Female: 67%
  • Male: 33%
  • Average age: 24
  • Average overall GPA: 3.24
  • Top home states: Illinois (29%), Michigan (11%), California (9%), and Wisconsin (8%)


  • Basic, behavioral, and clinical sciences
  • Pre-clinical simulation labs
  • Licensing board simulation rooms
  • Community clinical rotations
  • National Boards preparation courses
  • Optometry business management courses
  • Local and national external rotation sites
  • Contemporary optometry practice curriculum and clinical settings
  • Interprofessional education and clinical experience

Career and Educational Opportunities

Optometrists practice in a wide variety of settings. Some of the positions included below require advanced education or training beyond the O.D. Degree.1, 2

  • Private optometry, partnership or group practice
  • Ophthalmology practice
  • Federal government:
    • Veterans Health Administration optometry service
    • Public Health Service
    • Indian Health Service
  • Armed services (military)
  • Hospitals
  • Academia
  • Research
  • Health maintenance organizations
  • Ophthalmic industry
  • Franchise/retail office practices
  • Graduate education and residencies:
    • Master's or Ph.D. degree in Visual Science, Physiological Optics, Neurophysiology, Public Health, Health Administration, Health Information and Communication, or Health Education
    • Postgraduate clinical residency programs in Family Practice Optometry, Pediatrics Optometry, Geriatric Optometry, Vision Therapy and Rehabilitation, Low-vision Rehabilitation, Cornea and Contact Lenses, Refractive and Ocular Surgery, Primary Eye Care Optometry, and Ocular Disease. 

US Employment Projections through 2024

Employment of optometrists is expected to grow by 27 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. Because vision problems tend to occur more frequently later in life, more optometrists will be needed to meet the health needs of an aging population.  In addition, a large number of currently practicing optometrists is expected to retire over the coming decade, creating opportunities for new optometrists.3

Mean Annual Salary


The starting salary of a new OD graduate earns is dependent on the professional practice site that he/she enters.

1. National Matching Services, Inc., Optometry Residency Match (ORMatch),  Summary  Results of ORMatch for positions beginning in 2013, https://natmatch.com/ormatch/aboutstats.html (accessed 09/24/14)

2. College Grad, Career Information- Optometrists, http://www.collegegrad.com/careers/proft78.shtml#con (accessed 09/24/14)

3. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/optometrists.htm (accessed 06/13/17)

Admission Requirements


Students seeking admission to the Chicago College of Optometry must submit the following documented evidence:

  1. A minimum cumulative GPA and science coursework GPA of 2.75 on a 4.00 scale.
  2. A baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution. A BA degree is acceptable, but a BS degree is preferred.
  3. Results of the Optometry Admission Test (OAT). Minimum Academic Average and Total Science scores of 300 are recommended of all applicants. In order to be considered for the class to be admitted in the Fall of each academic year, the OAT must be taken and results submitted by June 1st of the year of admission. OAT scores must be earned no more than 5 years prior to the planned enrollment year.
  4. Necessary course prerequisites. All prerequisite courses must be completed with grades of C or better prior to matriculation. Only courses designed for science majors or pre-professional students are acceptable for the science prerequisites.
  5. Two letters of recommendation. One letter must be from a practicing optometrist. The other letter must be from a prehealth advisor, a professor, an employer or extracurricular activity advisor. Letters of recommendation from relatives, personal and/or family friends are not acceptable.
  6. A good understanding of optometric medicine. Candidates are strongly encouraged to shadow and observe a number of practicing optometrists in the clinical setting.
  7. Extracurricular and/or community activities that indicate a well-rounded background and demonstrate a commitment to service.
  8. Interpersonal and communication skills necessary to relate effectively with others.
  9. Passage of the Midwestern University criminal background check.
  10. A commitment to abide by the Midwestern University Drug-Free Workplace and Substance Abuse Policy.

Prerequisite Courses

CourseSem HrsQtr Hrs
Biology with lab812
General/Inorganic Chemistry with lab812
Organic Chemistry with lab46

*The Anatomy and Physiology requirements may also be fulfilled by taking Anatomy and Physiology I (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours) and Anatomy and Physiology II (3 Sem/4 Qtr credit hours).

The Doctor of Optometry degree program is rigorous and challenging. The Admissions Committee will therefore assess the quality and rigor of the pre-optometry academic records presented by applicants. When assessing an application, the Admissions Committee will view with concern applicants with:

    1. Cumulative and science grade point averages below 3.00 on a 4.00 scale.
    2. Academic Average and Total Science OAT scores below 300.
    3. Prerequisite science coursework completed more than 10 years ago. More recent (within five years) math and science coursework is preferred.


Program Description


The Chicago College of Optometry awards the degree Doctor of Optometry upon successful completion of the four-year professional curriculum in optometry. The first and second years of the curriculum emphasize basic health sciences, optics and visual science and students are introduced to clinical practice in simulation laboratories, through introductory courses and clinical experiences. Visual consequences of disease are introduced in the second year. The third year, divided between a didactic and clinical setting, emphasizes the diagnosis and treatment of ocular dysfunction and disease. The fourth year is intensive clinical training that will include both on campus and off campus externship rotations. Clinical settings for external rotations may include military facilities, veteran administration hospitals, public health service hospitals, and specialty and/or private practices or clinics.

Optometry Profession

A Doctor of Optometry (O.D.) is an independent primary health care professional who is educated and trained to diagnose, treat, and manage disorders and diseases of the visual system, eye, and associated structures. Doctors of Optometry are also able to identify related systemic conditions that affect the visual system. They examine the eye for refractive conditions such as nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism and presbyopia, eye movement and focusing abilities, diseases of the eye such as glaucoma and cataracts, and systemic conditions such as diabetes and hypertension. Doctors of Optometry prescribe eyeglasses and provide services such as contact lenses, low vision rehabilitation, and vision therapy. They may also prescribe medications for the management of eye diseases and perform certain surgical procedures.

Doctors of Optometry are integral members of the primary health care team. As such, these professionals also co-manage diseases that affect eye health and may refer to other health care professionals. The degree is also an entry point into the health care system. Although optometrists provide primary eye care services, they may also dedicate themselves to specialized areas such as low vision rehabilitation, vision therapy & pediatrics, electrodiagnosis, sports vision therapy, ocular prosthetics, and advanced contact lens care.

In terms of job satisfaction, length of training, prestige and job outlook optometry is considered to be a career with a very bright future. With a greater prevalence of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, and glaucoma in the aging population, the demand for optometric services is expected to increase significantly during the next decade, as this population increases.


The mission of the Chicago College of Optometry is to develop competent individuals who embrace lifelong learning through the pursuit of excellence in education, research, scholarship, and patient care for a diverse society. The College’s educational programs emphasize and promote public health, leadership, ethics, professionalism, compassion, commitment, collegiality, and sense of community.

Vision and Goals

The Chicago College of Optometry has the vision to:

  • Deliver an exceptional optometric education experience utilizing our unique multi-health professional setting and cutting edge technology.
  • Provide our students with the knowledge and skills to deliver the highest level of professional, ethical and compassionate eye and vision care.
  • Recruit qualified students; promote lifelong learning, community outreach, and innovative research; and develop leaders in the profession and communities.

The Midwestern University Chicago College of Optometry will pursue the following goals:

  • Deliver a comprehensive Doctor of Optometry degree program that prepares graduates for contemporary entry-level practice and encourages and fosters advanced training, in order to serve the interests and needs of the broader community.
  • Present an innovative optometry program with faculty committed to learning and teaching the current research and evidence based medicine applications, and using technologies to provide an exceptional educational experience for students.
  • Develop and support the faculty and students in their commitment to research and scholarly activities and excellence in patient care.
  • Graduate students who have achieved the learning outcomes as defined by the Faculty.
  • Improve patient care through promotion of interprofessional educational programming and the Midwestern University One Health Quality Initiative.
  • Foster a commitment to professional, collegial, and ethical practices in patient care while promoting public service to diverse communities.
  • Develop a high quality program appropriate for optometry residents at an affiliated or Midwestern University sponsored accredited optometry residency site.
  • Serve the eye and vision healthcare needs of Downers Grove and neighboring communities through the Midwestern University Eye Institute.
  • Provide and encourage lifelong learning and support services to the optometric profession.
  • Develop leaders in the optometric profession and the healthcare community.

Program Improvements

Planned improvements include development of additional external rotation sites that allow students to gain experience with medically disadvantaged patients, embedded assessments for program improvement, and development of specialty practices in the MWU Eye Institute.



The Midwestern University Chicago College of Optometry has been granted the accreditation classification of "Preliminary Approval" as of March 2, 2016 by  the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education (ACOE), of the American Optometric Association (AOA), 243 N. Lindbergh Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63141-7881; phone 314-991-4100. "Preliminary Approval" is the classification granted to a professional degree program that has clearly demonstrated it is developing in accordance with Council standards.

Midwestern University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, A Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (HLC/NCA), located at 230 South LaSalle Street, Suite 7-500, Chicago, Illinois 60604-1413; phone 312/263-0456.

Campus Safety


Students on the Downers Grove Campus benefit from a safe and secure suburban learning environment. Located 25 miles west of Chicago, our beautiful gated campus features 105-acres of wooded land and provides students with excellent living and learning opportunities. In addition, the University maintains a strong record of campus safety and has earned several partnership and citizen awards from local fire and police departments.

At Midwestern University, the safety and security of all members of our academic community is a top priority. For more information about our campus safety statistics, visit the national Campus Safety and Security database at http://ope.ed.gov/security/index.aspx.

Diane Baldemor is a 2014 graduate of the Physical Therapy Program.

Safi Mohammed, College of Osteopathic Medicine (CCOM), Class of 2014.

Chessa Calabrese is a proud member of the inaugural class of the College of Dental Medicine-Illinois.

Phil Huang, D.O., is a 2012 graduate of the Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Tolu Akinwale is a 2013 graduate in the Chicago College of Pharmacy, where he has learned to provide pharmaceutical care in a wide range of community and institutional settings.

Allison Rushing, D.P.T., is a 2012 graduate of the Physical Therapy Program on the Downers Grove Campus.

I cannot wait to be a practitioner who will be able to utilize my understanding of patients’ occupations in therapy in order to help them to live life to the fullest.

Zachary Karlinski is a student in the Chicago College of Pharmacy.